I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Patricia Farrell for the Liverpool Camarade poetry project. This was my first collaboration with another writer in the flesh, so to speak, rather than (as I have done previously) a collaboration with the words of a text already made by another writer. Reflection, on the interactive process of this collaboration and the resulting piece, along with my reading for my research, has broadened my concept of what I have been calling a ‘multi-voice lyric’.
‘Touching’ or Being Next to Rather than Composite
In the process of collaborating, Patricia and I were ‘speaking’ around the same theme, responding to each others’ segments of words. However (and this was notable to a degree when we came together for a read through), I have come to realise more fully how Patricia’s words are very definitely her articulating an utterance from her consciousness (albeit in response to an utterance I have made, and drawing on subject areas in common). Ditto for me in responding to her utterance. From my reading Gerald L. Bruns ('Prologue' in On Ceasing to be Human), as separate beings we do not become composite (nor does our text) in collaboration, as, rather than being absorbed by each other as one single utterance, it is that our utterances touch. And in presenting our ‘singular pluralities’, the text ‘opens’ via its complex of dialogic relations.
Although touching the issue of identity, I think what occurs here is not a question of ownership of language - rather, an acknowledgement that the consciousness out of which the words in this collaboration emerge are separate and touch at points of our coming together to make the text. Quite differently now I see my collaboration with Mina Loy was a dialogue (rather than a monologue) singularly within my consciousness - using words that Loy had chosen and arranged into poems. Those words of Loy’s were taken into my own consciousness and (having undergone a series of transformations) re-deployed onto the space of a page. That collaboration contains the sound of Loy’s words and rhythm of her writing but does not contain her consciousness - as that has been filtered out in passing through my own consciousness. There has been a shift in thinking that my collaboration with Patricia is a touching of consciousnesses in a way the Loy piece is not (and could never be).
The separateness of voices is important to my concept of ‘multi-voiced’ in my research. The multiple of voices I have been pursuing occurs within a speaking subject rather than without. As such the term ‘multi-voiced’ is perhaps by itself misleading - perhaps a plurality which denotes a thing (singular) containing or composed of more than one (of something), would better allow my notion of ‘voices’ within a single speaking subject. Collaborating with Loy’s words was largely an encounter, a touching, with an outer world of another speaking subject which became filtered through my consciousness in the way any encounter with the outer world would be. Whereas with Patricia the collaboration (the resulting text) contains a touching of consciousnesses via complex dialogic relationships between both inner and outer worlds of both consciousnesses.
Couldn't resist bringing in a visual of Patricia (below) in her very charming (Easter) bunny ears.